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Running rugby safely

261. Carol Baker

A former policewoman from Leigh who has dedicated over two decades of her life to safeguarding thousands of children playing rugby - Carol received her award from England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson

Carol’s family have always been rugby fanatics; with one son playing at county level, and the other in the England Under 16’s team. With both her husband and sons involved in the sport, she took an active interest, making a huge commitment 22 years ago to protect and safeguard children who wanted to play the sport.

In August 1992, she signed up to act as her local club’s Safeguarding Officer, responsible for the welfare of all of its members. Since then she has gone on to offer even more help as a Rugby Football Union Safeguarding Tutor, teaching courses about how to safeguard young players from across Lancashire and, since 2004, providing guidance and support to those carrying out Safeguarding roles in other clubs in her local area. Her work enables over 6,000 children to pursue their dreams of playing the sport.

As an early member of ‘The Pack’, Carol has already completed many shifts helping England Rugby 2015 interview and screen potential members. With recruitment now complete she will soon be undertaking a second role facilitating training for members of The Pack in Leeds, before taking up a role in the Transport Team during Tournament time at Manchester City Stadium.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“It is so important that young people can enjoy playing sports; children benefit hugely from being active and belonging to a team. Carol has worked for years to make this a reality for thousands of children in the North of England, giving them the freedom to get involved with sport in a safe and supportive environment. Her dedication to making the Rugby World Cup a success in England is further testament to her commitment. I’m delighted to award Carol a Point of Light.”

England Rugby 2015 Managing Director, Steve Brown, said

“We’re delighted and proud that a member of ‘The Pack’ has been awarded a Point of Light award. It’s a tremendous accolade and much deserved following Carol’s commitment to both volunteering and the game of Rugby over the years. Volunteering is a core part of the game from grassroots right through to elite and we are delighted to have such fantastic and committed individuals like Carol helping us to deliver the Tournament as part of ‘The Pack’. Upon receiving the award,

Carol Baker said:

“I am delighted, humbled and honoured to be recognised and awarded this prestigious Prime Minister’s honour. “Volunteering is something I have always been involved with and will continue to do so for many years to come.

“Rugby union has given so much to my family and myself. It is a privilege to give something back.

“I am passionate about young people being kept safe whilst having fun and enjoying the experiences presented by being involved in the game, allowing them to develop and be the very best they can be, creating strong and happy children who will be the leaders and adults for our future.”

Andy Burnham MP said:

“I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of this prestigious award.

“Carol has given countless hours of her time to help young people enjoy sport in a safe environment. She has changed thousands of young lives for the better and will help ensure the successful Rugby World Cup later this year.

“That is why it is right that she has been recognised by the Prime Minister. Carol represents the best of North West values and is truly the pride of Leigh.

“As her Member of Parliament and also as her friend, I am extremely proud.”

Carol’s role in her own words:

“I work closely with the Safeguarding team at RFU headquarters in Twickenham and the club safeguarding officers at Lancashire Rugby clubs. No two days are the same and I never know what email may arrive or what a phone call will be made asking for advice, intervention or support with regards to child protection and safeguarding.

“The day-to-day safeguarding within the Lancashire County involves supporting the 51 clubs and the 63 Club Safeguarding Officers attached to those clubs. Developing safe environments in which children can participate in sport. It is a pro-active approach ensuring Children, Young People and coaches are all playing, working and volunteering in a safe arena.

“My role may involve giving advice, training or investigating safeguarding concerns. Sometimes working with statutory agencies, or supporting young people and their families. I regularly meet and advise people from rugby clubs giving them support and auditing their policies, procedures and practices.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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